Amazon launches its first wall-mounted speaker at unveiling event

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Tech giant Amazon has launched its first ever wall-mounted speaker, at its streamed launch event on Tuesday.

The £240 ($250) Alexa-powered Echo Show 15 device boasts a 15.6-inch display that you can mount to your wall or place on your counter.  

Users can hang it horizontally or vertically, like a photo frame, as it displays how-to videos, recipes from the web or shows streamed from Netflix and Spotify. 

Amazon also unveiled a kids device called ‘Amazon Glow’ for them to share an ‘interactive projected space’ with loved ones, a new security doorbell and a $1,450 home robot called ‘Astro’. 

Some of the devices are available to order today, although others are still yet to see a general release and are ‘invite-only’.  

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‘We think of it [Echo Show 15] as a kitchen TV, but much, much smarter,’ said Miriam Daniel, vice president of Alexa and Echo devices. 

Echo Show 15 can display a live-stream from your smart doorbell, streaming services interfaces, personalised sticky notes to members of the family and much more. 

If you’ve opted to hang it from the wall and want to disable the display, users can ask Alexa to show a photo frame, and Echo Show 15 just shows photos, so it blends into the background. 

‘Echo Show 15 brings everything that makes your household tick into one place,’ said Tom Taylor, senior vice president, Amazon Alexa.

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It also has a redesigned home screen and Alexa widgets, designed for digital post-it notes and to-do lists in mind.  

‘With a redesigned home screen and Alexa widgets, you can customize Echo Show 15 to see your shared family calendar, manage to-do lists and reminders, find meal inspiration, and keep track of your incoming packages,’ said Taylor. 

‘Plus, Echo Show 15 can adapt to your home environment with full-screen photos or art, so it’s always there when you need it, but fades beautifully into the background when you don’t.’  

AMAZON GLOW

Amazon Glow, meanwhile, is a two-part device designed for children that lets them remotely connect with loved ones by participating in activities together. 

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During video calls on Glow, kids see a chat participants on a dedicated 8-inch display on a black device that looks almost like a retro walkie-talkie.

As they do so, they can be reading stories, playing games, and creating art on a 19-inch, touch-sensitive, ‘projected space’ that almost looks like a sheet of paper. 

As children are enjoying engaging activities on the flat ‘projected space’, remote family and friends see the child on a tablet and participate in the same activities using a free Glow app. 

Amazon says Glow combines ‘immersive projection, sensing, and video technologies to make it feel like you’re having fun in-person’.  

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‘Glow brings an entirely new level of fun that lets kids be kids and welcomes grown-ups into an exciting new way to connect and bond, even when they’re far away,’ said Joerg Tewes, general manager for Amazon Glow. 

‘We’ve created an unbreakable, supersized, projected surface like no other, fusing digital and physical fun that excites kids and delights grown-ups with all they can do together.’ 

Amazon partnerships with Nickelodeon, Sesame Workshop, Mattel and Disney mean children can choose from a wide range of content. 

Glow is available at an introductory, early access price of $250, but it’s only for US customers for now.  

BLINK VIDEO DOORBELL

The £50 ($50) Blink Video Doorbell is a smart doorbell that features long-lasting battery life, HD day and night video, two-way audio, and chime app alerts to a user’s smartphone. 

It’s the first doorbell from Blink, the home automation company that Amazon revealed it had acquired back in 2017.

Customers can sign up at a dedicated page on Amazon’s website to be notified when the device is available for sale. 

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‘The new Blink Video Doorbell provides affordable, easy-to-use, reliable security at your front door, and is the perfect first step for customers looking to build out a smart home security system,’ said Mike Harris, chief operating officer at Blink. 

‘Blink Video Doorbell is designed for every home – it comes packed with helpful smart security features like customised motion detection zones to monitor the areas that matter most to you and your family. 

‘With the addition of a video doorbell to Blink’s smart security camera line up – including the new Blink Floodlight Camera – you can see who’s at your door, keep an eye out for packages, and protect your whole home no matter where you are.’  

ASTRO THE ROBOT

Undoubtedly the cutest product making an appearance on Tuesday was its Alex-powered robot, called Astro – although it’s available to purchase by invite for people in the US, meaning interested customers have to sign up to have a chance to buy.

The $1,450 robot uses intelligent motion to check-in on your home while you’re away and give alerts about any disturbances. 

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It can move autonomously around your home, navigate to check in on specific areas, show a live view of rooms through the Astro app, or send alerts if it detects an unrecognised person. 

Astro uses its digital eyes on its rotating screen, body movements, and expressive tones to communicate, according to Amazon. 

‘Its personality is also helpful – for example, it hangs out in places where it can be the most useful,’ said Charlie Tritschler, vice president for products at Amazon.

‘For me, that’s in the kitchen, where I’m typically asking for a recipe or sending Astro to tell my family that dinner is ready.’ 

Amazon says: ‘To learn more about Astro or request an invite, please visit www.amazon.com/Astro.’ 

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ALWAYS HOME CAM 

Lastly, Always Home Cam was unveiled last year but it’s still not going to be made generally available for the time being, Amazon revealed. 

It’s a home surveillance drone that flies around your house when you’re not there and keeps an eye out for intruders.

It consists of a flying black camera, powered by rotor blades, that automatically takes off from a stationary white dock if it detects movement in the house.

The camera streams a live view of what’s going on in the user’s home to their smartphone via the Ring app, in case of unwelcome visitors.   

But Amazon revealed during today’s event that it’s also only to available to purchase by invite. 

Other products revealed today were the Ring Alarm Pro (a security system with a built-in Wi-Fi router), Halo View (a new fitness-focused smartwatch featuring a ‘vibrant’ AMOLED colour display) and a $60 smart thermostat.  

Amazon Smart Thermostat is Alexa-compatible and ‘keeps homes comfortable and energy-efficient’, Amazon says.  

Amazon’s new products were accompanied by the usual privacy concerns – one analyst said the tech giant will become ‘even more pervasive’ in our daily lives and called Astro the robot is ‘a bold move’. 

‘This latest barrage of devices and services from Amazon sees the company doing what it does best – evolving existing products, entering new categories with new features, and continuing to disrupt through aggressive pricing,’ said Ben Wood, chief analyst at CCS Insight. 

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‘All these products and services will help Amazon become even more pervasive in people’s daily lives.

‘Offering products resembling something from a science fiction novel positions Amazon as an innovative company in the eyes of consumers and investors  

‘As with other Amazon products, there is no question the Astro robot will become a lightning conductor in the privacy debate – but ultimately it is up to consumers to decide whether they want this type of technology in their homes. 

‘This product will be the litmus test for convenience versus privacy.’ 

At the event, Amazon’s hardware chief, Dave Limp, said that all voice interactions on are done on the device, as of the Echo Show 10, and not stored in the cloud. 

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